News Roundup

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Stories about heroin and opioids have been a hot topic in the News Roundup this year as jurisdictions across the state and country have struggled with an unprecedented surge in overdoses.  CBS News reports that a record number of Americans died from drug overdoses last year.  Heroin deaths rose twenty-three percent to nearly thirteen thousand deaths, a figure which exceeds the number of gun homicides over the same period of time.

Keep reading for the final blog post of the year – the North Carolina Criminal Law blog is signing off for the holidays and wishing our readers a safe and happy season.  We’ll have new posts beginning January 3.

Special Session Protests.  WRAL reports that twenty people were arrested Thursday afternoon during a protest at the Legislative Building motivated by the General Assembly’s decision to call a controversial and unexpected special session.  At the time of writing, WRAL was reporting that the Senate had passed legislation that “creates a single board to oversee the state’s ethics, lobbying and elections administration” and that makes “Supreme Court elections partisan affairs.”

Prison Visit.  The Marshall Project has an interesting story about the Vera Institute of Justice’s “National Prison Visiting Week,” which took place in November.  The story includes an account of one group’s visit to Central Prison in Raleigh, guided by warden Edward Thomas.  The story notes the reduction in the use of solitary confinement in North Carolina, and quotes W. David Guice, the North Carolina commissioner of corrections, as saying that policy reform related to the use of solitary will continue.

Supreme Court Rule.  WRAL reports that the North Carolina Supreme Court has withdrawn a rule that was adopted on election day which would have allowed the court to appoint former members to hear cases in which there is the possibility of a 3-3 deadlock because a sitting justice has to recuse him or herself.  The report says that legal experts questioned whether the rule was constitutional.

Trump Rally Assault Case.  The Fayetteville Observer reports that misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct charges against a Cumberland County man, John Franklin McGraw, arising from an incident at a Donald Trump political rally earlier this year in Fayetteville where McGraw punched a protestor have been resolved.  McGraw pleaded no contest to the charges and received a suspended sentence and unsupervised probation.  Speaking in court to the man he punched, Rakeem Jones, McGraw described the country as being “caught up in a political mess” and said to Jones, “you and me, we got to heal our country.”  The Observer reports that dozens of people in the courtroom applauded following the exchange.

Sandy Hook.  Wednesday was the fourth anniversary of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  On December 14, 2012, twenty children and six educators were killed by a lone gunman at the school in Newtown Connecticut.

Beyond the Bench.  We’ve got an early holiday present for your ears – a shiny new episode of the SOG’s Beyond the Bench podcast.  That’s right dear readers, episode four of season two is ready for download.  Picking up the ongoing story, the new episode finds the family and department engaged in case planning as the court monitors progress through periodic review and permanency planning hearings.  Check it out.

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